Because they aren’t like us

Yesterday one of my more inquisitive petty officers asked me why China backed off on its promise to cut all banking ties with North Korea. Specifically, he asked me why China would support a regime that murders and brutalizes its own people.

“Easy,” I told him. “They aren’t Chinese, so China doesn’t really care.”

I could tell that came across rather cold, so I asked a question:

“Do you think the Chinese government cares about social justice?”

Pausing, he said “Well, yes…”

And sadly, that is where so many people get it wrong.

When I lived in Bahrain, I remember watching all the high rises get built on reclaimed land. On the outside, it was amazing to see concrete superstructures rise out of the land. Most of it was built using imported labor, primarily Indian and Pakistani men. These men left their families, worked crappy hours and sent most of the money home, mainly because they made 10 times the money they could in their country. All this came at a cost. In one case, 30 people died in a fire in a one bedroom apartment. It wasn’t a party, it was 30 people living there because they couldn’t afford anything else. The government couldn’t have cared less.

We Americans take for granted that people around the world are naturally inclined towards social justice and raising our fellow human’s standard of living. Maybe it’s because we don’t like to think about evil, or even acknowledge that true evil might exist. When we do this however, we struggle to understand that many people in the world don’t care about human development.

China won’t ever truly care about the North Korean people. And to be fair, most Americans don’t really care about the plight of suffering people in places like Africa and South America. We certainly don’t change our foreign over it (unless you’re President Bush). So at some point, when we discuss North Korea, let’s not fool ourselves that China is going to suddenly care about the North Korean people.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.

Please pray for the people of North Korea and drop some money into Da Tip Jar.